by Dan McDowell
Published in Flyer – October/November 2017 issue
On July 24th, 2017, the Boeing Aircraft Company released their updated forecast for 2017-2036, predicting the needs for the aviation industry, more specifically, the commercial airline industry. According to Boeing, “The 2017 outlook shows a slight increase of 3.2 percent for pilots over the 2016 outlook, and a slight decrease in the need for airline maintenance technicians (4.6 percent), primarily driven by the reduction in maintenance hours required on the 737 MAX.
While Boeing projects a world-wide demand for more than 1.2 million pilots and technicians over the next 20 years, the reports states the world’s commercial aviation industry will require approximately:
637,000 new commercial airline pilots
648,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians.
839,000 new cabin crewmembers.
According to Boeing’s Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, he predicts that “the demand for commercial airliners will continue to grow at approximately 4.7% per year during the next 20 years, particularly in Asia, with a need for 41,030 planes (airliners) worldwide with an estimated value in U.S. dollars of $6.1 trillion.”
Boeing bases its numbers in part on trends in passenger growth which show that by about 2020, if not before, 4 billion passengers will have flown on the world’s airlines. To put that in perspective, it took from 1946 through 1987 (41 years) for airlines to reach the 1 billion passenger mark. The 2 billion mark was reached between 1988-2006 (18 years). The 3 billion passenger mark was reached from 2007 to 2013 in a mere 6 years.
The Boeing report goes on to say “… low-cost carriers and new markets would spur demand for 29,530 single-aisle planes, a projection 5% higher than last year, worth a combined $3.2 trillion. The projection for 9,130 wide-body passenger planes, such as the 787 and 777X worth a combined $2.5 trillion, anticipates a “larger wave” of potential replacement aircraft early in the next decade. Regional jets and freighters round out the demand.”
Bear in mind that Boeing’s figures are their best prognostications given the data currently available, collected and studied. The exact figures of course cannot truly be known at this time. But given the trends analysis, and a myriad of other factors Boeing considers in the report, the numbers foretell of a bright future for aviation in general. The complete study and additional information can be found at: http://www.boeing.com/commercial/market
So what does this mean for GA?
Everything! General Aviation is the primary training ground for the vast majority of commercial airline pilots. Even most new military pilots (USAF) begin their basic flight training in a GA aircraft (DA-20-C single-engine prop) no matter what their ultimate career aspirations may be. So it is easy to see the coming of the need projected by Boeing, (and several other sources as well), and clearly indicates a significant opportunity for the growth and expansion of GA. It also indicates that a window of opportunity is open right now, for huge numbers of new people to be introduced to GA. And they will need good mentors from the outset and along their paths to flying for the airlines, military, or corporate.
Look at it this way for a moment: given just the Boeing data mentioned earlier in this article, there are at the least 637,000 opportunities for young men and women to become new pilots and technicians. Now think of the benefits that potential GA activity will bring to many airports across the state and nation. Imagine how GA airports and flight schools at FBOs, for instance, could grow and prosper. Imagine the numbers of new and technologically advance GA aircraft that would likely be purchased by flight schools and used to train students.
There are 637,000-plus opportunities for experienced pilots, technicians, or anyone in aviation to talk to young people about the opportunities before them in GA and beyond. You can show them what you do in and for aviation. Excite them about the many possibilities and opportunities that are coming available. Help them make a choice, and then be a mentor to them.
Step up now and share the joy you have found in aviation, with the next generation of potential aviators, engineers, technicians, mechanics and other professionals. Motivate them to seek out careers in the aviation industry, and help them to imagine and visualize a great and exciting future. It is very important to maintain a dialog with them about their new found possibilities. Then point them to resources that will be useful and helpful to them. The future of GA is in your hands.
Now think a little further about GA. Imagine the additional opportunities that will open up for GA aircraft manufacturers as more aircraft are needed for flight schools and new owners. It follows that there will be an increased need for GA flight instructors, technicians and mechanics, line service and customer service personnel, engineers, and designers. Next, imagine the wonderful positive benefits all the above could bring not only to those in aviation, but also to your airport, and to your community as well.
Keep in mind that the aviation system provides benefits to all citizens in the form of timely, reliable and safe delivery of goods and services. This includes mail, perishables, high-value items, and individual transportation, specialized doctors and medicines, and law enforcement. GA also fosters and aids in the economic growth and wellbeing of the community.
Now I urge you to take full advantage of the opportunities to introduce new people to General Aviation. And remember to share the good news with your city leaders. Remind them of the current and potential value of your local airport to the city. As stated previously, every citizen in your community benefits from aviation at your local airport.
So plan to get together this winter with fellow aviators. Use that time preparing for spring by planning ways to help GA grow and positively impact the lives of many local citizens. You have 637,000 reasons to make a positive difference, and it only takes one good idea for you to help make new dreams take flight.